Will there be another lockdown in London? Fears as pubs packed and no social distancing

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London is a growing point of concern as the last few days of lockdown measures easing combined with sunny days has seen many throw caution to the wind when it comes to staying safe. Despite only being allowed open outdoors, packed pubs and bars weren’t hard to find around the capital, with large sections of the public abandoning social distancing measures all together. Food and travel content creator on Instagram, Scott Can Eat, pointed out this very issue to his followers.

Addressing his followers, Scott posted: “I’m thrilled that hospitality is back opened… but are there no longer rules regarding social distancing when it comes to outdoor dining?

“During Eat Out To Help Out, tables and such were spaced out… I’ve seen a couple of places where it seems like people are packed into terraces (seated obvs) [sic] but back to back packed.”

The Instagram user said it “makes me weary [sic] that the road map will be altered”.

Conducting a poll to his 30,000 Instagram followers and asking whether social distancing is required between groups of six at a venue, 84 percent said yes while 16 percent said no.

Londoners also took to Twitter to share their own outrage at the lack of safety measures being enforced by the capital’s hospitality industry.

One tweeted London mayor Sadiq Khan, asking: “What are you doing to encourage London businesses to act more appropriately to maintain social distancing rules? The scenes just look like businesses have consumed all the street space to maximise £ with no regard for public health or the NHS.”

Another tweeted: “Wow! London was busy. Drunks. No masks. No social distancing. Let’s see what happens next.”

One woman wrote: “Appalled by the scenes around London tonight! I understand we all wanna [sic] drink and have fun but I’ve just come out of a 12 hour shift vaccinating to see no social distancing and no masks anywhere. What’s the point.”

Will there be another lockdown in London?

As it stands, it’s too early to tell if London is heading for another lockdown because measures were eased very recently.

This means it will likely take a while to see if there’s a surge in cases, leading potentially to another shutdown for the capital.

However, one Government scientific adviser has warned London could face a local lockdown if surge testing isn’t enough to stop variants running rampant in the city.

Surge testing has been ramped up in four areas of London, with Mr Khan urging Londoners: “If you’re asked to take a PCR test, it’s crucial that you do so to help track and limit any cases.”

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Professor John Edmunds, epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, warned that it’s still very unclear if mass testing will work.

Speaking on ITV’s Peston Show, he said: “What we are looking at in south London [surge testing] is an example of what we will see now in the coming months as we try out best to keep that variant our or at as low a level we possibly can if these mass testing events don’t work that well, and we don’t know yet.

“I mean we will have to evaluate this one very carefully, then it’s possible we will have to impose some sort of local restrictions back in place, and nobody wants to do that.

“So that’s why it’s really important that we test this testing system – you know, mass testing – as robustly as we can and hopefully that is going to be sufficient to be able to keep cases low.”

Professor Christina Pagel, director of UCL’s Clinical Operational Research Unite and a member of the Independent SAGE group, said that restrictions will likely have to be city-wide.

Professor Pagel said it is “not feasible” to introduce local lockdowns in London and it makes “sense to keep restrictions” for a longer period of time.

She told the Guardian: “The South African variant seems concentrated in London right now and given that, if the Government are as worried about this variant as they say they are, it would make sense to keep restrictions in London going longer.”

Scientists have serious worries the South African strain will be more resistant to the existing vaccines, and now the Indian variant has also made its way into the UK, leading to more worry.

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